Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Lord of the Rings: The Mythology of Power Paperback – October 26, 2001
See the Best Books of 2018 So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year so far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
"An interesting examination of themes like the value of language and the corrupting effects of a will to power."―(Oshawa, Ont.) Artsforum
"Chance's companion volumes on Tolkien are brilliantly written and critically significant. Her understanding of his works is profound, and she convincingly confirms him as a major writer of the 20th century."―Kritikon Litterarum
"Both provocative and stimulating . . . provides a rewarding exploration of that web of relationships which defines Middle-earth."―Robert A. Collins, Florida Atlantic University
"The author has taken a complex and convoluted masterpiece and dissected it in a clear and concise style. Fans of Tolkien's classic will welcome it."―School Library Journal
"Presents a strong case for Tolkien as a mainstream contemporary writer."―Seven
From the Publisher
The author has taken a complex and convoluted masterpiece and dissected it in a clear and concise style. Fans of Tolkiens classic will welcome it. School Library Journal
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
a. The discussion of power is one-sided and focuses too much on the power of language, while neglecting issues such as the power of vision and the gaze, which are just as prominent. This makes the application of Foucault's theories - a good idea in itself -superficial (The author refers to one book of his out of a vast corpus).
b. Any discussion of the structure of The Lord of the Rings cannot disregard the vast work that Christopher Tolkein has done on the various layers and stages of the volumes of the book.
c. Chance's book is marred by many errors: for example, how can Germany have blockaded England in 1946, a year after the end of the war? In this context, the author should have mentioned Tolkein's own discussion of the relationship between his work and the Second World War.
Prof. Chance approaches LOTR and its mythology of power by way of a purely political hermeneutics, applying the theories of (mostly) Foucault to mythopoetic material that rises beyond explanation via mere politics. This Foucault influence is central, but at no point is it seriously questioned or demonstrated how it is even relevant or useful to the topic at hand - rather than, say, the concepts Tolkien drank in from epic poetry, fairy stories, world mythology, the Bible, or a thousand different philosophers (for example, how is Foucault more revealing here than Augustine, or Hobbes, or Rousseau?).
Somehow, it all fails to grasp the very personal, psychological, and metaphysical aspects of Tolkien's masterpiece, which speaks to us not primarily through the rationalism of politics but via the art of wonder: the magic of the journey, the crucible of morality and fellowship, innocence and experience, and the passages of life in relation to its underpinning wholeness.
It's disappointing and at times hilarious, though, when Prof. Chance sees LOTR as rather more concerned with "the political problem of the intellectual (22)" and "liberation from hegemony... A novel that mythologizes power and the problem of individual difference... the problem of individual and class difference within the social body or construct, the heroic power of knowledge and language in the political power struggle, and the ideal of kingship as healing and service, in a unique inversion of master-servant roles (23)". One gets the sense that it all boils down to "the role of understanding and tolerating differences within the community (24)", to "giving voice to the dispossessed of the twentieth century (25)". But interpreted this way, squintingly, the tale only seems to diminish into triviality. It becomes merely "a drama of the symbolic value of language (45)", wherein the Ring is a "challenge to [Frodo's] civic and political education (48)", and where "name-calling and hostile language...wound more than the...voice of an enemy like the Black Riders or Sauron (58)".
Admittedly, such platitudes are more than the pure baloney evoked here, and may well contain very important ideas, but they are, in the end, only tangents to the tale that Tolkien set down.
Frodo does not, as the author claims, use the Ring "to test resistance to institutionalized power and the power of others within the community." He doesn't "use" the Ring at all; if anything, it uses him. Gandalf's Elven ring does not save Frodo from the Nazgul at the Ford on the way to Rivendell; at that point in the story, we don't know that Gandalf has one of the Elven rings. "Mordor" may mean"murder" in Anglo-Saxon, and that may have been in the back of Tolkien's mind; but "Mordor" mean "black-land" in Sindarin, and that's the meaning Tolkien wanted for the land. Durin's Bane is not mithril or greed (though that is an issue), but the Balrog.
Dr. Chance does makes several interesting points, and for that reason I might, albeit with much hesitation, recommend this book to those who are familiar enough with LotR to avoid the pitfalls.